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Contractor payments 2016–2017; 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 data matching program exemption

Our reference: DMA16/00003

[redacted]
Data Matching Gatekeeper
Special Purpose Data Steward Team
Australian Tax Office

By email: [redacted]

Dear [redacted]

Contractor payments 2016–2017; 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 data matching program protocol

I refer to your correspondence of 4 April 2016 regarding the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) Contractor payments 2016–2017; 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 data matching program protocol (the program).

The purpose of the program is to match contractor payment data collected from businesses as part of the ATO’s employer obligations compliance activities. The data will be used to identify contractors who may not be meeting their taxation obligations, including registration, lodgement, reporting and payment obligations.

I note that the ATO is seeking an exemption to the data destruction timeframes contained in Guideline 7 of the Guidelines on Data Matching in Australian Government Administration (the Guidelines). Specifically, the ATO is seeking to retain data for five years from receipt of all verified data files from the source entities.

Consideration of issues

Under Guideline 10, an agency seeking an exemption must explain the public interest grounds that justify any inconsistency with the requirements of the Guidelines. I note that the ATO has addressed the matters outlined in Guideline 10 in the protocol. The ATO has identified a number of benefits, which support the conduct of the program, including:

  • the protection of public revenue through identification of non-compliance and recovery of tax revenue
  • improving voluntary compliance by educating taxpayers and deterring non-compliant taxpayers
  • promoting public support of, and confidence in, the integrity of the tax system.

Exemption approval

I have considered the information before me and agree that compliance with the data destruction requirements contained in Guideline 7 would significantly reduce the effectiveness of this data matching program.

I approve the ATO’s request to retain information collected during the data matching program for a period longer than 90 days. I have agreed to this exemption on the understanding that the information will not be retained for a period longer than five years from the date of receipt of all verified data files for a given financial year from the source entities, unless a further exemption is approved.

This exemption is only applicable to the Contractor payments 2016–2017; 2017–2018 and 2018–2019 data matching program protocol.

Publication on the OAIC website

Under Guideline 10.6, it is my normal practice to make exemption requests publicly available. I note that the ATO has stated in the protocol that is does not require the variation request to be kept confidential and, as such, this letter will be published on the OAIC website.

Should you have any questions, please contact [redacted].

Yours sincerely

Timothy Pilgrim
Acting Australian Information Commissioner

18 April 2016